Interview: Fly Union
Columbus hip-hop conglomerate-in-training Fly Union just returned from six weeks on the road with the BET Music Matters Tour, during which they shared the stage with Black Hippy breakout stars Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul plus Ohio-bred MMG stud Stalley. Before that, the trio appeared at Jay-Z and Budweiser's inaugural Made In America Festival over Labor Day Weekend. Suffice it to say it's been a busy fall for the rising stars.
They sat down last week to discuss their experiences on the road and what's next for Fly U. Press play on recent EP Zenith and scroll down to have a read.
Alive: So you guys just had quite a trip.
Jerreau: Yeah, it was a hell of a tour.
How did this opportunity come up?
Jerreau: In this music thing, relationships are definitely important. And that kind of speaks to the things we've been able to accomplish, getting out on the road and meeting people and introducing new people to our music. So we were asked to come on the BET Music Matters Tour by Top Dawg Entertainment, and we accepted.
So it was TDE that asked you?
Jay Swifa: Those are the homies too. Those are like family.
It seemed like it all happened kind of last minute.
Iyeball: Once you get the word, then you have to align everything. A lot of times we try to wait until everything is set up, you know what I mean? It's a lot of timing and resources, and getting things together to go on the road is a pretty tedious process. It was pushed a little bit to the last minute, but it's just kind of how it went, so you've just got to roll with the punches.
Is it fair to say this is the biggest tour you guys have ever done?
Jerreau: Traditionally we've done spot dates. You may do a show, couple days off, do another show, come home then you got another show.
Iyeball: Or just shorter runs.
Jerreau: This was 43 days. Thirty cities, 32 shows over 43 days.
Was it like you expected it to be, or were there surprises?
Jerreau: The only thing that I really expected was we had to perform. Everything else, it's a different animal, you know? It's not glamorous like people may assume. You hit a city and people say, "Dang, you get to see all these cities!" But you really don't get to see them. You arrive, you sound check, you eat, maybe go to the hotel, maybe stay at the venue, you perform, you sleep and you're off to the next city. There's not a lot of downtime.
Iyeball: What we wanted was to be able to be at our best every night. We didn't want anything else out of it. So as far as the conditions and expectations, we'd do whatever we had to do to make our performance the best and to have the best impact. That was our goal, and I think we achieved that.
From the look of the video blogs, it seemed like people were showing up early. You guys were performing for a full room even though you went on early in the lineup.
Iyeball: It was a full crowd. Of course people filter in throughout the night, but it's not like we went on when the doors opened. The way the show ran, generally, all the shows were run to where it was beneficial to the whole production. And you know, we were on the tour, so it only benefitted the tour.
Jerreau: It wasn't the case where you had to perform in front of 8-10 people. Every night it was packed.
Did you find there was a core of people who knew your stuff and were rapping along?
Iyeball: We definitely had Fly U fans in there. There was pockets of them to the left, the right, the middle. They knew every word.
Jerreau: There was definitely, like he said, pockets of people who knew us. But we were able to introduce our music to people who were coming because they knew who the other artists on the bill were. So I think that was a good opportunity. It's kind of like you said with the timing of the promo, since it was so last minute for us, we didn't have the opportunity to be a part of the initial BET promo. So a lot of our fans didn't know that we were going to be there, so it was a surprise to them. "Oh, s---, Fly U is here!" So that was dope.
You guys have obviously been around a met a lot of people over the years. But did you get to meet anybody on the tour that was a big deal for you?
Jay Swifa: Raphael Saadiq. That was a shocker for me.
Jerreau: It was offsite. It wasn't at the show or anything. We were at a product launch, and he was there. It was like, "Oh, s---, I'm a big fan." But we try to stay out the way when it comes to that. If I see somebody I admire, I'm probably not going to rush them. Because a lot of times what happens is you'll end up in a better situation with them where you can have a more meaningful conversation, from my experience at least. So a lot of times we see people, we might give them the peace sign, give them the head nod, say we appreciate your work, keep moving - and then we end up in a room with them again and have a conversation with them. But you know, like, we saw Dre perform. That was dope. To be able to see where he's come from and pass the torch, per se, that was good. But you know, there was all kind of people backstage.
Being out there and getting in front of these audiences, do you feel an urgency to get more new music out right away?
Iyeball: We did the tour, we used it as part of our marketing. We definitely will continue to market and to produce new music. It was a little tough to work efficiently on the road, but we did what we could do. But we've got a little bit of downtime, and that's what we're focusing on is the next set of releases going into the next quarter and into the beginning of next year.
Is there a plan for what those releases will be, or are you just making a lot of music and seeing how it fits together?
Iyeball: As artists, you make the music and you put it together how we want to see it come out. We try not to force it, of course, but the plan is to release a body of music, regardless of what it ends up being, and go from there I guess.
Anything before the end of the year?
Jerreau: Don't quote us. I mean, quote us, but don't quote us, you know what I mean? We definitely have songs in the can, so that's not a question, but if you asked us today what the next title of the next project's going to be, we couldn't tell you. A lot of people keep asking us for The Greater Than Club 2, and it may not be that. It may not be called that. It might just be a beat tape. You never know.
Iyeball: That will be coming out. [The beat tape.]
You guys did the Made In America festival right before you jumped on the tour. What was that like?
Jerreau: A lot of times it's tough because when you're going through the motions it's hard to take in what's actually happening. So in retrospect, being that only 30 artists were asked to be a part of the festival - it's the inaugural Jay-Z/Budweiser festival in Philly, you have Jay-Z, Kanye, Obama's doing an announcement on the Jumbotrons, we had an hour set - it's kind of a big deal.
Oh wow, they gave you guys time to really stretch out. That's actually pretty dope.
Jerreau: Definitely. It was definitely a good time. And after we did our set we got a chance to go see other performers and check out their stage shows. I'm definitely a fan of music at the end of the day.